Today’s entry continues a series of short musings about lectionary texts that may soon appear in your line-of-sight. These thoughts may be helpful in interpreting the appointed lessons with sensitivity to the realities faced by those who are older.
This month cradles Lent in its conceptual and emotional hands. This season of the church year seems especially appropriate for older adults: The season’s themes are familiar to us right now, and they can trigger memories of important life experiences that are deeply rooted in our spiritual selves.
The original writers, hearers and subjects of Scripture may have known similar feelings, thought similar thoughts, considered similar reactions.
In March, the weeks’ lessons scatter across the landscape of spiritual thought—almost like a buffet of soul food. These familiar texts seem to reach toward every part of us, insisting that God’s work and words are necessary food for our life journeys. Jesus already begins to look toward the ending of his ministry, adding a measure of urgency to his remaining days. The Psalms cry out familiar themes, as though torn from inside the Psalmists’ souls. Prophetic and pastoral words invite those of us who are older to think back, think forward and think upward.
Sunday, March 1, 2020 (First Sunday in Lent, Cycle A, *CEV)
Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-7 – A hard question for those of us who are still seeking—or embodying—wisdom: What’s the problem with knowing the difference between right and wrong?
Psalm 32 – The emphasis here on forgiveness calls to mind the things we want to tell others before our death. One of them is “I love you.” Another heartfelt expression is “I forgive you.” Always the obvious question: Why wait until death’s door to say—and practice—what’s essential for a full life in Christ?
Romans 5:12-19 – One of the weighty matters that sticks to us as we age is this truth: The results of earlier-in-life sins may have followed us through life, cascading into torrents of sinfulness that have been hard to escape. How might true forgiveness release us from that burden?
Matthew 4:1-11 – An admittedly strange question for this text: How might Jesus have responded to the Devil’s temptations if he had encountered them as an older person? And with that question comes another: How do we who are living in our later years respond to Satan’s wiles?
Sunday, March 8, 2020 (Second Sunday in Lent, Cycle A, CEV)
Genesis 12:1-4a – What’s going on here? At 75, Abram starts a new life? Faraway, and out-of-touch with his former culture? For what reasons, and to what effect? The story hints at answers for any of us who choose—or are forced—to re-invent ourselves in our later years. (For example, the retired life, moving into assisted living, dealing with life-altering disabilities.)
Psalm 121– Even though we might enjoy napping as a way of life, God’s never drowsy! Comfort and example?
Romans 4:1-5, 13-17 – Salvation by faith—something we know in our bones when we finally give up on the immature idea that we can save ourselves.
John 3:1-17 – Everyone! No exceptions! God loves older adults, too!
Sunday, March 15, 2020 (Third Sunday in Lent, Cycle A, CEV)
Exodus 17:1-7 —
Psalm 95 – Old age may finally be the time to put aside the decades-long stubbornesses that have kept us at arm’s length from the love and providence of God. At this time in life, rebelling against God seems like a futile way to live.
Romans 5:1-11 – Because suffering enables endurance, and endurance creates character, hope emerges as a necessary fact of life. Implied here: Those of us who have come through suffering into sturdy endurance might be most ready—and most exemplary—of hopeful living.
John 4:5-42 —
Sunday, March 22, 2020 (Fourth Sunday in Lent, Cycle A CEV)
1 Samuel 16:1-13 – A simple question, one that confounded Samuel for awhile: Who’s going to take your place as leader, example, truth-teller? What’s your responsibility and your privilege to find, name and equip this person, these people?
Psalm 23 –
Ephesians 5:8-14 —
John 9:1-41 – This delightfully detailed account of religious teachings exposed shows some wise parents side-stepping the heresy that would blame them for their (blind) son’s affliction. Their witness can help any of us whose children have lingering problems, so that we stop condemning ourselves.
Sunday, March 29, 2020 (Fifth Sunday in Lent, Cycle A, CEV)
(NOTE: This Sunday is also the observance of Hans Nielsen Hauge, a renewer of the church. The Old Testament text invites us to connect our personal renewals to that of our congregations.)
Ezekiel 37:1-14 – “Dry bones” might be a good way to describe some of the physical, mental or spiritual attributes of old age. That’s not the end of the story, whose conclusion comes when the wind of the Spirit enlivens newly enfleshed bones to new life. Our dryness may not be a permanent condition, either. The Spirit is still working in us!
Psalm 130 —
Romans 8:6-11 —
*CEV – Contemporary English Version